Police Stations

The “Bridewell”, Old Police Station on the corner of Kings Road and High Street.

“From the many references to the Bridewell in the 18th and early 19th century Sessions Rolls, we learn that two small wards were provided, one for males, the other for females. Each ward was equipped with a wooden bedstead, straw and two blankets. There were no fireplaces, and the small windows in each ward were unglazed. Above the wards were the living and sleeping quarters of the keeper, who, in the 18th century, received £20 a year. For a time the keeper was a widow.

The Bridewell was sometimes in such a dilapidated condition that prisoners had little difficulty in gaining freedom. One of the most daring escapes was made by a man detained on a petty larceny charge ; he broke his chains, smashed through the wall, and escaped by way of a neighbouring stable. Recaptured at Northampton, he was publicly whipped and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment at Berkhamsted. But long before his term was up, he again escaped and was presumably never recaptured.

How sorry was the plight of some of the prisoners is shown by a report dated 1786. Two men detained at the Bridewell were ‘almost naked,’ and four shirts, costing tenpence each, were bought for them.” (Beorcham, Berkhamsted Review, Aug 1949).

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Bridewell, built in 1764

Bridewell must have improved by Jan 1836, because the Visiting Magistrates reported to the Court of Quarter Sessions at Hertford that “the Bridewell continues to be of the greatest service to this division” (Hertford Mercury and Reformer). More about the Bridewell here.

A new, more substantial police station was built about 1890.

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Police Station, built about 1890

Demolition begins at the Police Station (again)…
“A report that the Home Office has approved the rebuilding of Berkhamsted Police Station at a cost of £100,000 in 1971 is not likely to provoke an outcry for the retention of the present building. Of late Victorian vintage, it is not one of the town’s architectural gems.” (Beorcham, Berkhamsted Review, Sep 1967).

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Police Station, c1972

“Two people, standing at the crossroads, were discussing the new police station.
Said one: ‘It’s still a job to see what it will look like.’
Said the other: ‘I expect it will be ever so nice inside.'”
(Townsman, Jul 1973).

This police station was included in the section “Negative Features and Issues” in Berkhamsted Conservation Area Appraisal (2012). It was demolished in 2015 to make way for a new development of apartments.

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